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Grand Ole Opry Removes Piano Player Tim Atwood And Fiddle Player Hoot Hester (Due To Ageism)

February 22, 2014

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UPDATE Hoot Hester dies.

There seems to be more turmoil at the Grand Ole Opry, and perhaps more intrigue than we care to imagine coming from the makers of the longest running radio show.    Perhaps more bluntly this is another sad commentary about our beloved Opry

This week it was troubling to learn that piano player Tim Atwood and fiddle player Hoot Hester were released from the staff band.  If you are like me–and I suspect some of my readers are–then you too will recall when one of my favorites on the stage, Roy Acuff, would say “That’s Tim Atwood at the Piano—it’s the cannonball– you’ve rode it before.”  These musicians have institutional memory and should be treasured.

Here is a sample of Hot Hester and his fiddle with the Melvin Sloan Square Dancers at the Opry.

And a performance with Jeannie Seely and Tim Atwood singing “Tell Me About It”.

It has been made known that the two were fired in the way things are now done by the current Opry management, and that means it happened with a phone call.  Cold, impersonal, with no explanation or personal meeting.

Both of these remarkable musicians will be able to play for performers who ask them to be a part of the back-up band.  But they will no longer be a part of the Opry staff band.

The cold-hearted nature of what has happened with the management at the Opry tarnishes the mood of this still proud slice of Americana.  Opry management needs to better understand there are too many warm memories of performers now gone, and future glories to yet unfold on the Opry stage to continue operating with such recklessness.

I tend to think this move is all about ageism, and to that point some readers may recall what I had to say when the Opry tried to steamroll Stonewall Jackson.

The Opry is making a huge mistake by removing some of the performers that made that stage so mighty impressive over the decades. We are displacing a part of the past before they will leave the stage for the last time and go to the biggest Opry show to be played.  It does not need to be that way.  Gaylord Entertainment is greedy and as a result we all lose something.

40 Comments leave one →
  1. Mollie Moore permalink
    September 7, 2017 7:14 PM

    I agree Gaylord not considering how their desires are ruining the Opry after so many good years of good entertainment. They had better wake up !
    They kicked Stonewall Jackson off & we see what happened with that deal & hurt so many people in the process.

  2. Gary Cooper permalink
    April 25, 2017 7:49 PM

    Gaylord has ruined the Opry. Tim Atwood, Hoot Hester, and Joe Edwards are the Opry. Very sad to lose these great musicians and even greater people.

  3. January 20, 2017 12:54 PM

    Charles,

    You are a lucky person to have been able to interact with this part of the Opry Family. As a true fan and promoter of the Opry I would love to hear–if you are willing to share–a tidbit or two about the fun that is had onstage or off-stage that made you smile over time. Thanks for anything you might care to add or share.

  4. Charles Alexander permalink
    January 20, 2017 12:43 PM

    I remember when Tim first played at the Opry. He is a great player. I also knew the fiddle player and of course Joe Edwards one of the best ever I got to know all of them.

  5. Eric Underwood permalink
    February 23, 2016 9:46 PM

    It’s a disgrace letting these 2 fine musicians go, I was wandering why I haven’t seen Tim Atwood and Hoot Hester on the newer Opry YouTube videos. Both are very talented musicians that gave it their all while performing with country singers(if you want to call some of these singers country) I think its time to clean house at the Opry starting with getting rid of Pete Fisher and replace him with someone who cares about the Opry and not run in the ground with bringing in singers that are not country.

  6. February 6, 2016 10:34 PM

    Jim,

    You are correct. Therefore the correct photo is now posted and I appreciate your calling attention to the matter. What this really says is that I do not have dinner or conversations with Hoot so am not familiar with what he looks like. I did however grow up with WSM on every Saturday night in our home and know what the Opry means to me. I worked in radio and people knew me too but had no idea of the color of my eyes or the style of my hair. The feel that a fiddle player contributes to music has been with me since the first Roy Acuff album that played on our record player back home to what Eddie Stubs does now when he picks one up and lets if make music. Thanks again for your comment on my blog.

  7. Jim Wood permalink
    February 6, 2016 10:17 PM

    I don’t know what kind of a commentary on your blog this is, but that is Earl White on fiddle in your clip instead of Hoot. I think you (the author) probably cares on some level, but what does this really say? Hardly anybody knows anything, and why does any of this matter? Fiddle music as an art form is so far removed from what happens in a commercial setting like the Opry that it is utterly unrelated. There is so much more to guys like Hoot that hearing them in this setting is a travesty.

  8. Brenda sue holland permalink
    December 18, 2015 9:16 PM

    That’s because they true country music. That’s what the Opry is.all about Not this music they call country today.

  9. December 17, 2015 5:04 PM

    Shame on Gaylord Entertainment for such an impersonal act as firing such beloved musicians by telephone! It’s time for folks to let the Opry management team know that they need to be more respectful to musicians who’ve helped build the Opry into the show it is—-but with an attitude like this, the Opry may, in fact be on its last legs! No age discrimination will be tolerated in Nashville!!

  10. November 30, 2015 12:40 PM

    If that is the way the Opry does business….by family does not need to vacation there. Branson here we come!

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